City Considers Funding Options for Brookside GC

By | February 13th, 2018

The Ashland (Ohio) City Council spent over two hours discussing revenues and expenses at the public facility, considering whether it will continue funding the course or make changes to the 2018 budget. Without a general fund subsidy, the golf course would be in the red by $200,000 this year.

The Ashland (Ohio) City Council spent over two hours discussing revenues and expenses at the public Brookside Golf Course on February 10, the Mansfield, Ohio-based Richland Source reported.

The meeting came at the suggestion of Mayor Matt Miller, who said his aim was to determine whether the council would like to continue funding the course or make changes to the 2018 budget. Council expects to vote on a 2018 budget on February 20, the Source reported.  

The current draft of the city’s 2018 appropriations includes a $141,192 transfer from the general fund to the golf course to keep the course in the black for the year. That figure represents about one quarter of the $565,406 projected expenditures for the golf course and is up about $12,000 from the projection city finance director Larry Paxton gave, the Source reported.

Council president Steve Workman pointed out that taking into consideration a $61,003 carryover from last year, the course would be around $200,000 in the red this year without a general fund subsidy, the Source reported.

“I think what brought us here today and makes this a discussion people are paying attention to is that if you look back over the finances for the last 10 years, you can see the amount being transferred continues to rise,” Miller said. “Our hope is that in some way we can take control of that so that’s not the case in the future.”

Golf Pro and Manager Terry Valentine estimated about 17,000 rounds of golf are started at the course annually by 5,000 to 7,000 individuals, not including rounds played by kids in the junior program, the Source reported. 

Valentine outlined his belief, which he said was supported by two recent studies of the course, that the course is an asset to the Ashland community, offering recreational and educational opportunities as well as economic benefits to the city. He argued that course superintendent Billy Christian has dramatically improved the condition of the course since 2014, a point confirmed by golfers in attendance, the Source reported.

Nevertheless, Valentine said, there are additional changes that could be made to improve the course and boost revenue. Namely, he said, the city could invest in hiring a professional marketer to promote the course and in a pavilion for outings and events. He estimated the pavilion would cost anywhere from $45,000 to $75,000. Christian said he would like to see more marketing of the foot golf course, which is played with soccer balls on the front nine, the Source reported. 

Other suggestions to boost revenue were made by the mayor, council members and members of the public. Ideas included offering sponsorships of holes and golf carts, offering naming rights for sponsorship of the pavilion, reducing the amount of merchandise in the pro shop, starting an endowment fund., the Source reported 

When asked by council member Dennis Miller what the course could do to cut costs, Valentine said the course has cut as much as it can and that further cuts would show in the condition of the facility. Christian said the course has not had any money earmarked for capital improvements in several years and eventually some updates will be needed, the Source reported. 

“If there’s no more room to cut on the expense side, you guys and us are going to have to be very aggressive on the income side, and that might mean raising rates and aggressively going out there and soliciting sponsorships and donations and endowment funds,” Miller said. “We can’t wait around any longer. Our back’s against the wall and we’ve got a lot of sentiment against continuing to subsidize the golf course.”

Workman asked Paxton for an estimate of how much it would cost to continue operating the golf course just until the season begins and revenue arrives. Paxton did not have that figure but estimated it would cost about $65,000, the Source reported. 

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